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330 Reviews of Books 

The Development of English Tlwught ; A Study in the Economic In- 
terpretation of History. By Simon N. Patten, Ph.D., Professor 
of Political Economy, Wharton School of Finance and Econ- 
omy, University of Pennsylvania. (New York : The Macmillan 
Co. 1899. Pp. xxvii, 415.) 

Dr. Patten has written a book stimulating alike to the student of so- 
ciology, political science, history, and psychology, for it touches at certain 
points each of these subjects. To no one, however, will it be more in- 
teresting than to the student of history, who will rise from its perusal uncer- 
tain whether to be more exasperated by its dogmatic interpretation of fa- 
miliar historical events and movements than delighted with its insight 
into the working of historical forces, and its singularly concise and pithy 
way of saying things. No one can read the work without acquiring 
added mental strength and new points of view, and whether the reader 
like it or not, he will probably look at some things in history differently 
from before. 

What Dr. Patten has given us is not so much a history of the devel- 
opment of English thought as it is a theory and law of progress in his- 
tory, a philosophy of history from psychical and economic standpoints, and 
a series of speculations upon the environmental conditions that have in- 
fluenced the development of certain aspects of English philosophic and 
economic thought from Hobbes to Darwin. 

The fundamental thesis of the book is this, that to understand the 
development of English thought it is necessary to understand the eco- 
nomic conditions that have influenced the thinkers — not only those con- 
ditions that have been contemporaneous, but those that have gone before 
and have shaped the national character. By character Dr. Patton means, 
the motor reactions that have been inherited from past generations, the 
conservative forces that have never been able to adjust themselves com- 
pletely at any given time to the rapidly changing environment or econ- 
omy. This economy Dr. Patten defines as composed of all the objects, 
which modify, through the sensory powers, the old motor-reactions, the 
definite objects and forces (both tangible and intangible, ideals as well 
as food supply and national goods), which at a given time are the requis- 
ites for survival and which are capable of bringing about readjustment of 
the organism to its environment. Progress is caused, therefore, says Dr. 
Patten, by " the interplay of the character-forces in men and the eco- 
nomic-forces in their environment. ' ' 

With this as his premise Dr. Patten's object is threefold. First he 
attempts to give a new classification of society, substituting for upper, 
middle, and lower classes, for conservatives and liberals, for landlords, 
capitalists, and laborers, a division based on psychic peculiarities into 
dingers, sensualists, stalwarts, and mugwumps, a classification, it may be 
said at once, suggestive and valuable. Secondly he rearranges the stages, 
in the history of thought, placing the economic stage first, the aesthetic 
second, and the moral and religious stages third and fourth. In this con- 



Patten: The Development of English Thought 331 

nection Dr. Patten demands that history be studied in epochs, and that 
the study of each epoch take into account contemporary economic, aes- 
thetic, moral and religious influences in succession before examining the 
corresponding influences of an earlier epoch. And finally our author 
offers a new interpretation of the history of thought. He starts with the 
premise that " the economic conditions are the primary source from which 
all elements of the national character arise," that is, that all original 
motor-reactions were shaped in earlier times in a local environment and 
a pain economy ; and then recognizing the transforming and modifying 
influences of new environments and new conditions other than economic 
which have remodelled old types and developed new ones, he finds in this 
progressive movement the constant recurrence of two intellectual classes, 
one of which, the philosophers (moralists or prophets, which he later and 
better calls speculators or thinkers) represents the old types, the other, 
the economists (whom he later and better calls the observers) standing 
for the new. To the tendency of the philosopher to become an observer 
and the observer to become a philosopher Dr. Patten ascribes the forward 
movement in thought. 

The remainder and the greater part of the work treats of the enlarge- 
ment of these propositions and their application in history. It is im- 
possible in the space here at command to consider even in brief Dr. Pat- 
ten's conclusions. No student of Continental or English history will fail 
to study Dr. Patten's book, unless he is hide-bound by the conception that 
history is mere narrative and that the function of the historian is to state 
facts and not to interpret them, or is so taken up with his love of method 
that he has neither time nor inclination to cultivate ideas. He will 
probably disagree with Dr. Patten over and over again in his conclusions, 
for the latter makes no attempt to prove his assumptions, and rarely illus- 
trates his generalizations by an appeal to facts. His attitude is that of 
one who could readily prove his statements if he wished to do so, but 
who thinks that they are so self-evident that it is not worth while. 

But all of Dr. Patten's conclusions are by no means self-evident. I 
should like to ask Dr. Patten to prove the following statements : that the 
English owe more of their characteristics to the Shemite than the Greek, 
and that the Church was shaped by Roman and Shemite ideas only ; that 
all the migrating Germans were lost or blended with all the people they 
conquered ; that the Volkerwanderung was actuated by greed only, and 
not by starvation as well ; that the bishops of Rome avoided all theo- 
logical controversy ; that northern Europe before the sixth century was a 
dreary waste in which " a few half-starved people were huddled in miser- 
able hovels"; that monastic colonies were never under strict rules; 
that the Church elevated the position of women ; that there ever was a 
German Emperor in the Middle Ages ; that the leaders of the Renais- 
sance sought to reform the abuses of the Church ; that Calvinism spread 
only where gilds and clans were dominant ; that Germany has had a 
steady development running through many ages while Europe passed 
"suddenly from barbarism to social security and prosperity "; that Eng 



332 Reviews of Books 

lish society before the Reformation was half as bad as he makes it out to 
be ; that the Puritans were bound to disappear because of their economic 
shortcomings and died like sheep of consumption ; that the " craze for 
agricultural improvement " in the eighteenth century was due to the mo- 
notony of country life ; that ' ' history has seldom risen above a chronicle 
of wars and disasters ' ' ; that historians do not know that discontent not 
poverty causes progress ; and that " all great writers are lazy." Yet we 
are asked to accept each of these and scores of others on Dr. Patten's 
ipse dixit. 

Dr. Patten's book is full of original comments and suggestive inter- 
pretations that will be willingly considered by every historical scholar. 
Two general conclusions, however, present themselves ; first, that Dr. 
Patten has unconsciously shaped his interpretation of history according 
to the theory that he has framed, has selected those phases of history and 
those views on debateable points that were most useful for his purpose, and 
has too frequently generalized from insufficient data; and secondly, that in 
the application of his theory he has narrowed his definition of environ- 
ment, and has exaggerated the importance of single economic factors, 
such as woolen clothes, the oven, the bath-tub, wheat, sugar, steady 
employment and three meals a day, and in so doing has filled his inter- 
pretation of history with a spirit of economic and psychic fatalism. In 
this day and generation, when the historian is beginning to recognize 
that no great event in history can be traced to a single cause, no matter 
how important that cause may be, it will not be deemed sufficient to offer 
such simple explanations as those with which Dr. Patten is content. The 
historian is not ready to give up the influence of individuals in history and 
to see his faith, his creed, his ideals, his art, and his literature merely the 
outcome of an economic surplus, the result of a new invention or of the 
introduction of a new element in the food supply. And that which is 
true of the economic interpretation is also true of the psychic ; prayer is 
more than a motor collapse, praise more than a motor outburst, the truth 
of doctrines and creeds more than a mere test as to whether a further de- 
velopment of the sensory powers is of greater social value than the further 
growth of the motor powers. Dr. Patten has given us throughout his 
work a series of explanations which are frequently sound and true, but 
which are in reality only a part of the great truth of history. The value 
of his work lies in the fact that the explanations he advances have never 
perhaps been so lucidly or convincingly presented before. 

Charles M. Andrews. 

Cosimo de'Medici. By K. Dorothea Ewart, late Scholar of Som- 

erville College, Oxford. [" Foreign Statesmen."] (London 

and New York : The Macmillan Co. 1899. Pp. viii, 240.) 

This latest volume of the Foreign Statesmen series can hardly be 

ranked among the best of the collection. There is labor, patience, and, 

on the whole, a good arrangement of very complex material, but the en-